A conversation about early learning improvement

Last month, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ounce hosted our very first Partnership for Pre-K Improvement (PPI) convening: “Partnering for Pre-K: A Conversation about Strengthening Early Learning Systems.”

We brought together a diverse group of 150 leaders, experts and funders in the early childhood field to share knowledge and generate ideas for improving Pre-K quality and access for low-income children and families.

Ounce President Diana Rauner was joined by Marquita Davis, the deputy director of early learning at the Gates Foundation, in welcoming attendees and reflecting on common challenges and goals.

The Ounce launched the Partnership for Pre-K Improvement initiative in 2016 to partner with state education leaders who oversee Pre-K programs for low-income families across three states: Washington, Oregon and Tennessee. PPI’s work is done in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, the Alliance for Early Success and the University of Washington.

PPI’s goal is to build strong state partnerships in the early education field in the areas of program, advocacy and research to build high-quality, equitable Pre-K systems.

The June convening included a panel discussion with PPI state Pre-K leaders from the Ounce, led by Ann Hanson, the vice president of advancing quality, as well as our state partners: Sara Mickelson, chief of staff at the Oregon Early Learning Division; Soojin Oh Park, assistant professor of education at the University of Washington; Lisa Wiltshire, policy director at Tennesseans for Quality Early Education; Marquita Davis, deputy director of early learning at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Sarah Weber, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Walter Gilliam of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy at the Yale School of Medicine presented his research on equity in early learning environments. Attendees then rolled up their sleeves and joined discussions on pressing issues in early learning: data, leadership and tools for improvement.

We hope that this convening is just the beginning of a continued and sustained effort to connect, share knowledge and align across states and disciplines to improve the state of early education.